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  1. #1
    Retired dabbler hobkirk's Avatar
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    How long for muscles to recover before doing a century?

    How long does it take for the muscles to fully recover to make a century easier? Age has really slowed recovery and healing. How many days (if any) do you rest before a century? I welcome advice and other comments.

    Both my cycling clubs have Fall Centuries coming up shortly - 9/11 and 9/19.

    I haven't asked or contributed much in the 50+ forum. I think this is a good question for here because age is the main issue. I've included a few details both for understanding the question and for its entertainment value.

    I'm 64 and 223# (a 24# drop). I started cycling 6/2/2010 and I've biked a little over 2,000 miles [What do you mean, "manic"?]. I ride 5 days a week and do gym (not very strenuous lifting and/or circuit machines) on my rest days of Monday and Friday. About 40% of my rides are group rides. I usually do an 18-mile Fitness Ride each week but almost all my rides are longer, 35-65 miles. The terrain is New England rolling hills with an average of 40-70 feet per mile (climbs can be brutal for me because of my fat). My average speed is typically 15.3-16.4 - my best 17 mph for 20 miles. I work pretty hard - I'm literally gasping by the top of almost any climb longer than a few minutes and I usually pedal on the downhills. I've been working at raising my cadence, and my average cadence is about 83. I am very pleased with how well it has gone so far!

    After 4 days of rain, I overcooked myself with four days of 49-60 mile rides. By yesterday's ride, my legs were shot and I was dropped early. My average heart rate was about 10 beats lower than normal but I was hurting - "how far til the end?" My thighs will still be sore tomorrow, but that's not unusual.

    This is the second week before the first century. My plan is to do a long ride (maybe 75 miles) Tuesday, starting at 7-8 AM (when the century starts) and eating/drinking the stuff I plan for the century. I only have one ride longer than 65, an 83-mile ride that ended with cramping hamstrings in my 7th week of cycling [Circumstances caused me to try a century even though I was pretty sure I wasn't quite ready.]. My muscles are better prepared now and I think I have the eating/drinking worked out better now.

    Next week the first century is on Saturday. I plan on doing an easy ride on Wednesday and doing two rest days on Thursday and Friday. Sound practical?
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  2. #2
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Just to clarify, your century is on a Saturday, so your schedule is:

    - tuesday (75 miles)
    - wednesday (easy ride)
    - thursday (rest)
    - friday (rest)
    - saturday - Century

    Is that right? Or are you saying you are doing a 75-mile ride this Tuesday, to a prep for a century that is next Saturday (10 days away) ?

  3. #3
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    It was mentioned in another post- but Quality miles. Those are the miles that will work towards the goal you want to make.

    You do not have to do lots of miles to train for a century. Max I normally do is about 60 miles and that is only done at weekends. In that 60 miles I will at some point have a long hard hill that I go for- Have a 2 mile flat section I go for or have 5 miles where I keep my HR at 90% of my Max. The rest of the ride I am pushing sometimes and recovering at others. In the week I do a couple of 20 milers. One of which is hilly and the other is flat. Take a couple of mile warm up and then go for it for the rest of the ride.

    So for me- the weekend before a Century I will do a 60 miler-My normal ride- and on tuesday and Thursday I will do the 20 milers. If I did any more than that I would be worn out for the ride.

    And on the 100 miler- Take it steady from the rate you are currently riding at. If you average 15 mph- Then only do that when getting a tow or downhill. Don't hit the hills as hard and pay attention to drinking and eating.

    I normally take the first 5 miles at a steady pace- gradually allowing the HR to reach 75 to 80% of my max. That is a comfortable pace I could keep up all day. Slopes I work harder and save the real effort for when it is needed. And if it is needed- then recovery time is needed.

    Don't worry about the rides- but I would suggest cutting milage back a bit in the week before the first ride. And in between the two just keep to the 20 milers. And don't forget the Slower recovery ride the day after the first one.
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  4. #4
    Retired dabbler hobkirk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    Just to clarify, your century is on a Saturday, so your schedule is:

    - tuesday (75 miles)
    - wednesday (easy ride)
    - thursday (rest)
    - friday (rest)
    - saturday - Century

    Is that right? Or are you saying you are doing a 75-mile ride this Tuesday, to a prep for a century that is next Saturday (10 days away) ?
    Guilty of confusion! I propose the 75 ten days before. In the last 16 days, I've done done 3 55-mile rides and a 68, 64, and 60-mile ride. It seems to me that, despite what stapfam says, that it would be good to work out the eating and drinking on a ride that's got that extra hour or so. The nutrition usually isn't much of an issue on these rides, but it's around mile 40-50 that it affects me when it is a problem. I think I do better when I get an early start - I've noticed problems usually occur when I start around noon.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member BengeBoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hobkirk View Post
    Guilty of confusion! I propose the 75 ten days before. In the last 16 days, I've done done 3 55-mile rides and a 68, 64, and 60-mile ride. It seems to me that, despite what stapfam says, that it would be good to work out the eating and drinking on a ride that's got that extra hour or so. The nutrition usually isn't much of an issue on these rides, but it's around mile 40-50 that it affects me when it is a problem. I think I do better when I get an early start - I've noticed problems usually occur when I start around noon.
    Thanks for clarifying.

    I think your plan sounds great then -- do 75 miles 10 days out, then take it easier. For the last 10 days before the century, I'd do a mix of rest days, "easy" days, and a "moderate" ride or two.

    I don't know what, for you, is "moderate" vs. "easy." For me, easy is about 15 miles, moderate is 25 to 30.

    This year I've been experimenting with taking off *more* rest days before a long ride, and it's worked for me. I've taken 2 days off in a row before some big rides and have found it's been great for getting me motivated to get on the bike the morning of the event.

  6. #6
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    I don't think it matters. Rode 68 miles the day before my first century.
    It is a matter of controlling your pace on the century.

    I do feel very strong coming off of two days rest.
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  7. #7
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    The last century I did was on Ragbrai this year, did a 75 miler the day before with no problem. Don't over analyze this. Eat and hydrate during your ride and enjoy. Ride your own pace.

  8. #8
    Retired dabbler hobkirk's Avatar
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    Stapfam -
    • I am not quite into the quality miles yet. I have done power intervals on Thursday twice in the last 3 weeks. Only two sets of 2x3 in the midst of an easy 30-35 miles. My body is slow to recover. Old. Friday is a rest day.
    • I don't understand some of your (and others') comments about riding in specific heart rate zones. There's no place I ride that's flat. An average of 40' of climbing per mile is about as flat as it gets. A typical 1/2 or one mile climb always elevates my heart rate up to at least 135 (my max HR cycling is 152). Or do you mean the HR on the flats?
    • And when you talk about flat courses and hilly courses, are you talking about the difference between an average of 40' climbing per mile vs 100'?
    • And finally, my 15 mph average includes 30 mph downhills, 22 mph flats, 8 mph grinding ascents, and so forth. I don't really know how fast I'm going until I've been riding for an hour. Of course I know I tend to go out too fast, so I try to force myself to cool it. In my premature century attempt I think I only passed 3 riders (700 riders total) in the first 42 miles (sort of the psychological midpoint) and lots after that. My average speed was also higher in the second "half." [An aside - many, many years ago, when the British still ruled, my first marathon was an out and back route. I wasn't passed by a single runner after the turnaround. But I was a much better runner then than I am a cyclist now.]
    • And then what is your recommendation about the day after the century? A "recovery ride"? I anticipated one or two rest days.
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  9. #9
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    I do a fair number of centuries and continue to experiment with various combinations to try and feel fresh on the day of the ride. What works pretty good for me is to ride hard up to a week before the event-even doing longer rides. If the Century is on a Saturday, I can do a hard/tempo ride of 40 miles on the Tuesday before-followed by a shorter ride on Thursday in the 20-30 mile range. However, it is extremely critical on Thursday to keep the heart rate down and just spin using easier gears. If you're riding with others on Thursday, you have to be extremely careful to not take the bait and do any stretches of tempo. I think this routine is similar to "tapering".

    I've also done centuries on consecutive days and the second day it took about 30 miles to get my legs but eventually they come around. With the base miles I have it was just a matter of getting through some initial soreness and stiffness.
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  10. #10
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Recovery Ride.

    around 10 miles at a slow pace. Higher cadence so that no stress is put on the legs and to get the blood flowing to clear any toxins in the legs.

    I try for flat miles- Do not get the HR above 70% of my max- cadence of around 95 when my norm is 85 to 90- and no effort put into the ride. This ride is just to get the legs moving and taking a bit of effort. That is where the problem lies- It is harder to ride with no effort than to go out for a quick short ride.

    And remember- you can overtrain.

    That taking it steady for 5 miles at the start of the ride works for me, gets the body warmed up and then I can gradually increase pace as I go along. 10 years ago I was doing Metrics and Centuries every other week and the group I rode with could never understand why I would be the lead bike from 50 miles to about 80. They enjoyed it though as by that time- They were beginning to feel the pace they had been going at- while I had been sitting at the back getting a tow. Mind you- that last 20 miles always took some effort out of all of us.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    I've done 1 or 2 centuries each weekend for most of the spring and summer. I don't really try to peak for these rides as special events. During the week I usually get in at most 3 or 4 30 to 35 mile rides. I try to take the day before a long ride off completely (sometimes because I'm traveling after work to a hotel or something.) Usually one day of rest is enough to leave me pretty fresh. If I'm doing 2 long rides on a weekend, I can feel pretty rusty for the first 25 or 30 miles, so I try to avoid the hillier stuff on the 2nd day.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member gear's Avatar
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    One of my recent health newsletters mentioned that research showed that cherries consumed after a workout speeded recovery time for the body.

  13. #13
    Legs; OK! Lungs; not! bobthib's Avatar
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    This is a great thread to tag on my question about prep. In another thread I've mentioned the upcoming 115 flat ride around Lake Okeechobee. I feel pretty good about the ride itself as of right now. There are 60 riders, and the forecast is for the normal 4 - 7 mph breeze in the area.

    Now the question is rides in advance. Yesterday (the Tuesday before the Saturday ride) I did 33 mi at 5 am, 14 at 2 pm (on the tandem to p/u my grandson from school, and 20 with the wife on an urban ride. The morning ride was a hammer fest, the noon ride was an easy 15 mph romp, and the night ride with the wife was an easy 16- 17 mph romp with 3 heavy sprints.

    Tonight (Wed) we'll do another 20 mi urban ride. I'll take it easy, and perhaps do some sprints up the parking garages. Besides that, I'll just "go with the flow."

    Tomorrow at 5AM there will be another 35 - 40 mile hammer fest. We may also do another 20 mi urban ride if my son joins us. I'll take that one easy too, but there is one or two inviting sprint areas.

    The wife wants to do yet another 20 mi urban ride Friday night. If we do that, I will take it very easy, treating it as a "PREcovery" ride, high cadence, no effort, very easy pace. I'm kinda wondering if that might be a little too much in advance of Saturdays endurance test.

    Also, I'm a proponent of pasta carbo loading in advance of a big ride like Saturday's. I'm planning on having a nice big pasta dinner both Thursday and Friday, and a big bowl of Cheerio's at 4AM sat as well as some muchies on the 1 hr drive to the lake. I'll have some home made goo and honey on the jersey, 2 water bottles with HEED, and 2 packs of HEED to mix up on the stops.

    There are 3 scheduled stops, with sub sandwiches at the second stop. 1/2 will be eaten at the stop, and the rest along the way or at the ride's end. I'm also bringing a big Recoverite shake and water in a cooler for a little post ride refreshment.

    Any thoughts on the ride load in advance or the nutrition prep? I don't want to over-train or wear myself out, but the wife is "getting into" riding and I really want to encourage it.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member JimF22003's Avatar
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    I personally wouldn't worry about an easy 20 mile ride the day before a hard effort. If it was really hilly, or you were nuts enough to do interval work it would probably be a bad idea. Just cruise along. It will keep your muscles loose.
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  15. #15
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobthib View Post
    This is a great thread to tag on my question about prep. In another thread I've mentioned the upcoming 115 flat ride around Lake Okeechobee. I feel pretty good about the ride itself as of right now. There are 60 riders, and the forecast is for the normal 4 - 7 mph breeze in the area.

    Now the question is rides in advance. Yesterday (the Tuesday before the Saturday ride) I did 33 mi at 5 am, 14 at 2 pm (on the tandem to p/u my grandson from school, and 20 with the wife on an urban ride. The morning ride was a hammer fest, the noon ride was an easy 15 mph romp, and the night ride with the wife was an easy 16- 17 mph romp with 3 heavy sprints.

    Tonight (Wed) we'll do another 20 mi urban ride. I'll take it easy, and perhaps do some sprints up the parking garages. Besides that, I'll just "go with the flow."

    Tomorrow at 5AM there will be another 35 - 40 mile hammer fest. We may also do another 20 mi urban ride if my son joins us. I'll take that one easy too, but there is one or two inviting sprint areas.

    The wife wants to do yet another 20 mi urban ride Friday night. If we do that, I will take it very easy, treating it as a "PREcovery" ride, high cadence, no effort, very easy pace. I'm kinda wondering if that might be a little too much in advance of Saturdays endurance test.

    Also, I'm a proponent of pasta carbo loading in advance of a big ride like Saturday's. I'm planning on having a nice big pasta dinner both Thursday and Friday, and a big bowl of Cheerio's at 4AM sat as well as some muchies on the 1 hr drive to the lake. I'll have some home made goo and honey on the jersey, 2 water bottles with HEED, and 2 packs of HEED to mix up on the stops.

    There are 3 scheduled stops, with sub sandwiches at the second stop. 1/2 will be eaten at the stop, and the rest along the way or at the ride's end. I'm also bringing a big Recoverite shake and water in a cooler for a little post ride refreshment.

    Any thoughts on the ride load in advance or the nutrition prep? I don't want to over-train or wear myself out, but the wife is "getting into" riding and I really want to encourage it.
    If it were me I would avoid any hard efforts on Thursday---but too late for my input anyway!! Personally I would not ride on the day before an event but if you do, you really, really have to be disciplined to go easy-and hydrate extremely well. It really doesn't do you any good to ride even two days before an "epic" event. If you're not ready by then there ain't nothing you can do to get ready.......except to make sure you're well hydrated.

    There could be one difference in approaches-when I'm doing longer rides generally I'm trying to get from the start to the finish as quickly as I can, so I'm pushing a pretty good pace throughout and it really helps to feel as fresh as possible at the start. If the goal is to just ride, finish and not be as concerned about overall time, the things I've mentioned are not nearly as critical. Trying to feel as fresh as possible on a more relaxed ride is not as critical as you can simply ride a slower, easier, more relaxed pace. I learned that this summer doing a weeklong ride. I could easily do the miles-I just could not do them at the same pace as if I were fresh--unless I was partaking of some magic pills. I think we all know that as it is just common sense but felt like it needed to be emphasized.
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  16. #16
    Legs; OK! Lungs; not! bobthib's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jppe View Post
    If it were me I would avoid any hard efforts on Thursday---but too late for my input anyway!! Personally I would not ride on the day before an event but if you do, you really, really have to be disciplined to go easy-and hydrate extremely well. It really doesn't do you any good to ride even two days before an "epic" event. If you're not ready by then there ain't nothing you can do to get ready.......except to make sure you're well hydrated.

    There could be one difference in approaches-when I'm doing longer rides generally I'm trying to get from the start to the finish as quickly as I can, so I'm pushing a pretty good pace throughout and it really helps to feel as fresh as possible at the start. If the goal is to just ride, finish and not be as concerned about overall time, the things I've mentioned are not nearly as critical. Trying to feel as fresh as possible on a more relaxed ride is not as critical as you can simply ride a slower, easier, more relaxed pace. I learned that this summer doing a weeklong ride. I could easily do the miles-I just could not do them at the same pace as if I were fresh--unless I was partaking of some magic pills. I think we all know that as it is just common sense but felt like it needed to be emphasized.
    As it turns out, the 5AM ride today was a nice casual 18 mph ride. No intervals, a few miles at 22. No ride tonight as my son didn't feel well, and the wife only wanted to ride if our son went. And now we have dinner plans for Friday night. So, it has worked out well.

    I got an email from the organizer and while the pace will be 20 -22 the entire way, he is adamant that the group remain together. There are 3 scheduled stops, and some vehicle barriers that will take the group of 60 about 5 min to traverse. We will also stop for mechanicals and flats. It is not a race, it is a group ride. I'm feeling better, esp now that the forecast is for calm winds and no rain, and 60 - 65% cloud cover. Except for being 80 - 90 deg, it should be perfect!
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  17. #17
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    20-22 mph in a group of 60 should not be any problem at all-assuming minimal wind effects. You'll get sucked right along. Sounds like a great century. Wish I could join you!
    Ride your Ride!!

  18. #18
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    If you are in fairly decent shape, a night's sleep ought to be enough.

  19. #19
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Something I do on all rides is a warm up. Takes about 5 miles and I work on the heart monitor.

    I have a max of 160 so I get the HR up to 120 within 1/4 from home and recover.That first 1/4 mile leaves me a bit breathless. Then I get to 130 up a slight slope and recover to 100. Then get to 140 and back to 120. Then I get to 150 and recover till I am comfortable. Then for the rest of the ride I can go at 135 with ease. 140 does get me breathing firmly but at these rates I can ride all day. Slopes and I go to 150 and can see near my max if the hill steepens. But if I do see near my max- I recover till I am comfortable.

    If I were to try and get to 150 directly-I would never get there.

    But on a 100 miler- I would try not to get much above 140 for the whole of the ride. Doesn't alway work as there is always a hill to go for- or a group that I try and stay with that are just a bit too fast for me.

    And on Climb per mile. 40ft per mile is 4,000ft per 100 miles. Depends if it is 1 mile long hills at 12% or 3 miles at 4%. Both will takes their toll- but in a different way. The short steep ones will take effort and the long gentle ones take time. But 4,000ft is not a bad ride. Not enough to say a hilly ride but it definitely isn't flat.

    One thing no-one has mentioned is "Bonking". If you do not eat enough on the ride then you have a chance of running out of energy at around 70 miles---Or if you go too fast and use up carbs quicker than you can take them in. I carry a variety of snacks. Dried fruit- Cereal bars- Cake-and a few Mars Bars or similar. I also take a couple of gels. The gels are for emergencies but I take a break at around 65 nmiles which is my first stop other than for water bottle filling. At that 65 miles I have something more substantial. A sandwich or a tub of creamed rice- a gel and a full bottle of water. Also stretch my legs at the same time and it takes no more than a couple of minutes.

    I would suggest you take 2 stops on the ride and eat better at both. And on water- the old maxim of if you are thirsty- it is too late is true for me. I try to take a bottle of water per hour if it is warm. More if it is hot. So drink and eat on the ride- Then drink some more and just in case- drink some more again. And the drinking and eating starts before the ride and carries right on through till after.

    And if you think you are going to Bonk- SLOW DOWN- take on more water and a gel. Won't get you back to full energy but you will survive the ride.

    Enjoy the ride and don't worry.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

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